SIC InC, normally known for shows featuring extravagant lights and intricate background videos, decided to take things back to basics for its first show of the year, MotionSIC. Without flashy lights or strange background props to enhance the show, SIC InC turned to the Yaledancers to make things interesting.
While SIC InC has incorporated dancers into shows in past years, MotionSIC is the first official collaboration with a Yale dance group. SIC InC Co-President Stephen Feigenbaum ’12, explained the new simplicity of the show by saying they no longer felt the need to use excessiveness to make their show appealing.
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“We don’t need to be doing a million different things to make the show interesting,” he said.
If simplicity was the focus, then the show accomplished its goal. Instead of a visual blitz, the show was driven by the raw emotions of those dancing and playing instruments. The dancers all wore some form of traditional black dance clothing, either spandex or leotards. There were no stage props: it was clean. Lights were used mostly to emphasize the facial expressions of dancers during crucial moments or to highlight a specific person meant to be the focal point of the current act. The venue itself, the Off-Broadway Theatre, also added to the shows’ nitty-gritty, personal vibe. Anyone sitting in the front row will feel incorporated into the show itself, as the dancers at times performing less than a foot away from the front row seats.
The theme of the show in one word? Passion.
During one dance that seemed to depict the story of a troubled, intense love-triangle, the dancers’ rash movements were complimented by emotion-filled panting. With each step closer to one another, the dancers would exhale a sigh of deep feeling, as if their movements alone could not fully express their desires.
During another dance, which seemed to depict obsession, one of the dancers focused her attention singularly on one of the cello players. The cello player sent his message clearly: a shake of his head sent the dancer backstage. Her departure signaled a switch in music tone. The beats became eerie. There was a flash of movement near the cellist’s feet. Goosebumps crawled along my arms as I saw the dancer’s hand creeping slowly towards him, her fingers curling and extending desperately in her effort to reach him. The show’s best moments were those that demonstrated surges of emotion such as this — the moments where the message was overwhelmingly clear and all the audience had to do was sit back and revel in it.
Interaction between the dancers and the musicians occurred frequently throughout the show. If the instrumentalists were not directly involved in the choreography, they would match their facial expressions with the mood of the piece, by looking grieved at a dancer expressing pain or worried at a dancer’s uncontrolled rage. The interaction between both groups helped to give the performance unity. It did not feel like solely a dance show or solely a concert.
The musicians had their own moments to shine apart from the dancers as well. There was one act that featured only instrumentalists, one of whom, the bassist, ran from his usual post on the side of the stage and did a quick dance in the middle of the floor. His moment in the spotlight ended with a pirouette that can only be described as endearing.
But the musician who stole the show was pianist Naomi Woo ’12, whose intense facial expressions and fierce movements as she played reminded me of the incomprehensible feeling of being immersed in something you love doing. She wasn’t playing; she was performing.
The show’s final piece was a testament to the adage, “save the best for last.” As soon as the music began to play, I had the uncontrollable desire to just dance. (A very dangerous feeling when it’s a Wednesday night and you’re within walking distance of Toad’s.) The toe-tapping, head-bobbing beats were the perfect example of SIC InC’s mission to reinvent classical music. It was the kind of music that would make even the shyest of wall-flowers do a little shimmy. The final piece represented what the show was about: the music, the dancing. No flashy gimmicks: just raw performing.